Mark Hawald brings a new era to Mount Union wrestling
Dan Cosimi - OhioWrestling.Net
Mark Hawald accepted the position as head wrestling coach at Mount Union College this week, replacing Marcus Lambdin who moved on after leading the Raiders for the last seven seasons.
Hawald was an assistant at Notre Dame College during the ‘06-’07 season and a volunteer assistant at his alma mater, John Carroll University, during the ‘05-’06 season. While wrestling at John Carroll, Hawald was an NCAA All-American, finishing in third place at the national tournament at 174 pounds. He was a four-time Ohio Athletic Conference champion and a three-time NCAA Academic All-American. In 2005, he received the Clyde Lamb Award for athletics, academics, and sportsmanship, the OAC Outstanding Wrestler Award and the John Summa Award for being the outstanding wrestler at the OAC Tournament. He finished his collegiate career with 122 wins, tying John Carroll’s school record.
“Mount Union has given me a great opportunity and I plan to build something special here. We’re right in northeast Ohio so we can draw from schools all around the area and, hopefully, all around the state and even western Pennsylvania. It’s a great school with excellent academics and a good wrestling tradition. I enjoy the community atmosphere at a small school. It’s great when one of your teachers comes up to you and says, ‘great match last night’ because they came and watched. You’re not just a number, it’s a community. That’s how it is at Mount Union.”
At twenty-five years old, Hawald is the youngest head wrestling coach in the NCAA. “I think it’s exciting to be the youngest coach around. I will use my youth to my advantage. It will be a positive situation because I can wrestle with the team. It is important to have experienced wrestlers in the room to train with, because it helps wrestlers develop and gives them a new look in the room.”
First-year coaches have their work cut out for them. They have to get established in their community and in their own room, and the wrestlers have to get adjusted to the coach’s new system. Another challenge for Hawald will be to bring back a program that placed fifth in the Ohio Athletic Conference last year and had no wrestlers qualify for the national tournament. Not one to shy away from a challenge, Hawald thrives in the underdog role. “As a senior in high school, I finished second in the district and went 1-2 at the state tournament. In high school I was good but inconsistent. I wasn’t at the same level as many wrestlers coming out of high school, but I worked as hard as I could in college to bring me to their level. A lot of it was on my own, doing cardio every day and lifting outside of practice. I had an aggressive style that used my strength and conditioning to wear down my opponents. I hope to pass this style on to my team. Staying dedicated helped me improve from where I was in high school to where I ended up in college. Before college, I’d respect some guys too much because of their name. When I got to college, being a state champion didn’t mean anything. I was now beating state champions. There’s a lot of parity in college because everyone is wrestling at a high level. Training as hard as I could and being in better shape gave me the extra edge it took to succeed.”
At first, Hawald was not sure he wanted to continue wrestling when he got to college. “I wasn’t sure if all the time and effort was worth it because of some of the heartbreak that comes with the sport. Fortunately, I decided to stick with it, and never looked back. I realized wrestling would be worth it. My goal was to be a national champion. I didn’t quite get there but I trained as hard as I could all the time. The experience was priceless, and definitely worth it.”
Excelling in academics as well as on the mats, Hawald graduated with a degree in accounting from John Carroll in 2005. He is scheduled to graduate after this semester with his masters degree in business administration, also from JCU. “Sometimes it’s hard when your buddies are going to a party and you decide to stay in and study for a test or rest up for practice in the morning. But when I thought about it, twenty years from now, I don’t want to be unhappy with my career and think to myself, ‘I really wish I tried harder in school.’ I don’t want to be the guy thinking, ‘If I worked harder I could have been an All-American.’ Because I know in twenty years I’m not going regret missing parties, making sacrifices, or pushing myself to achieve my goals.”
Hawald is going to integrate that dedicated, hard-work philosophy to the Mount Union program this year and in the years to come. He also wants to work with the Mount Union wrestling alumni. When asked about the prospects for assistant coaches, he said one of the first on his list is Mount Union alum Sean Connelly, a fellow OAC champion. “Mount Union has a great tradition in football. Wrestling can have a tradition like that too, especially in this wrestling-rich area.”
“I want wrestlers that want to work hard and be all they can be. It doesn’t matter if you’re a state champion, state qualifier, district qualifier, or whatever. I’ll take the stars too, but you don’t have to be a star in high school to wrestle and succeed in college. If you come to Mount Union, we’ll help you train and be the best you can be.”
For more information on the Mount Union program, email Mark Hawald at firstname.lastname@example.org
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